What is the Future Feminism after the #MeToo and Times Up Movements//Megan Brubaker


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The #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement have shaped the future of feminism with respect to sexual harassment and gender equality. These movements emerged following a catastrophic year forcing feminist to resort to defensive extremes. In many settings, women feared for their rights and voices. As a result, women grew louder than ever and demanded accountability for sexual harassment and assault. Today, this movement extends beyond sharing stories or naming abusers. The movement is actively seeking to create reform and change around sexual misconduct and abuse of power. Women are seeking to balance the sex and dating culture to find equality and justice between genders. Now that the movement has gained the national attention, what is next?

Named by TIME magazine person of the year, the #MeToo movement has transformed how we view sexual harassment by encouraging women to speak up. Similarly, the Times Up movement was debuted at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards as celebrities dressed in all black. Both movements seek to unite survivors by bringing conversations about sexual violence into the media and destigmatizing survivors. These social movements have started to shadow the attention towards traditional glamorized events. Upcoming shows, such as the Oscars, struggle to respect longstanding traditions while also respecting this strong cultural movement.

The sexual harassment problem is not new. The high-profile cases in the media along with research demonstrating high rates of sexual harassment in work settings, demonstrates how this is a growing social problem.  However, a continued problem with the movement is that it only shows successful change in the majority and neglects the minority women. The movement fails to acknowledge the problems in every other underpaid industry across America. Minority women are more likely to experience higher probabilities of sexual harassment than any other demographic category in the workplace (Rospenda, Richman, & Shannon, 2009). These women are also less likely to be believed than rich white women. Thus, while the movement seeks to normalize reporting sexual harassment, it is still a dire problem in industries beyond Hollywood.

There are several potential risks victims of sexual harassment fear in confronting or reporting abuse, namely fear of retaliation, bullying, or loss of job. In fact, it has been found that one in three women have been sexually harassed and that 71 percent did not report it (Gardiner, 2018). In Hollywood, the risks for confronting sexual harassment are very different from than those acquired in the service industries. But perhaps the shift in attention towards sexual harassment is because the women who ousted Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, or Matt Lauer were rich and famous. We follow most of these famous women on social media and see how they were praised for there claims without viewing any potential risks.

Thus, while these movements increase our social awareness and education around policies on sexual harassment, it neglects minority women who are more vulnerable to being victims. The movements seem to fantasize naming abusers while there are still many real risks in non-luxurious settings. We need to have more serious conversations about the extreme power imbalances that exist in many aspects of our culture. These social movements also need to be implemented at all levels of our culture. Despite its flaws, the movement has brought an overlooked injustice to the surface. It has drawn the younger generation to attune to these injustices, with hopes they will continue the movement.  While other movements have failed, there’s hope that the #MeToo and the Time’s Up movements have the momentum to finally bring justice to so many women.

Written by: Megan Brubaker

References
Gardiner, M. (2018). Why women don’t report sexual harassment. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-gardiner/why-women-dont-report-sex_b_11112996.html

Reichel, C. (2017). Sexual harassment: Who suffers, and how. Journalist’s Resource. Retrieved from https://journalistsresource.org/studies/economics/workers/sexual-harassment-assault-health-discrimination-race

Rospenda, K. M., Richman, J. A., & Shannon, C. A. (2009). Prevalence and mental health correlates of harassment and discrimination in the workplace: Results from a national study. Journal of interpersonal violence, 24(5), 819-843.

Sigurvinsdottir, R., & Ullman, S. E. (2016). Sexual orientation, race, and trauma as predictors of sexual assault recovery. Journal of family violence, 31(7), 913-921.

Wright, J. (2018). Is time’s up the next step for the me too movement? Harper’s Bazaar. Retrieved from https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a14754192/metoo-2018-ending-sexual-assault/

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